BIO Andrés Rúa González
Date of Birth: 2nd February 1974
Citizen of Puerto Rico,
Address: Tropic Ventures Sustainable Forestry Project, HC 63 Box 3879,
Patillas, Puerto Rico, 00723
Andrés was born in Guayama, Puerto Rico in 1974, and grew up in Marin Bajo, Patillas. Andrés is a talented composer and musician who studied Comparative Literature and Pre-law at the University of Puerto Rico, Rio Piedras. He is a Spanish and English speaker.
Since 2005, Andrés has been living at Las Casas de la Selva, and has been passionately learning the hands-on business of sustainable forestry management. He has partaken in all aspects of getting the wood to the market, beginning with tree identification and selection for harvest. He is a qualified chainsaw operator, trained in directional felling by US forest-fire fighters, and is in charge of tree felling, hauling, and milling wood. Along with GPS mapping, and enhancing the cyber-world, web, and technical developments at the project, he is a proficient tractor driver, skilled electrician, photographer, and organic gardener.
Andrés has involved volunteers at Las Casas de la Selva in many communities and local environmental projects, from the beach and river clean-ups, to community construction work, and trash and recycling initiatives. Andrés organized a complex event in 2004, to clean-up the reservoir of Lake Patillas, calling hundreds of local people to action.
Andrés has worked with Earthwatch Expeditions as a Lead field assistant, since 2005, and has worked with many volunteer youth groups including Globalworks Expeditions to Puerto Rico, leading construction, road maintenance, and trail work at Las Casas de la Selva. He has participated in many seminars and talks to schools, universities, and other organizations all over the island, about the forestry work ongoing at Las Casas de la Selva, and other issues dealing with natural resources.
With support from the USDA Forest Service and the Puerto Rican Department of Natural Resources, Andrés has conducted a Forest Products Assessment over several years. This project enabled visits to all the saw-mill owners on the island, interviews with dozens of artisans who work with forest products, as well as large and small scale wood and product dealers. The aim was to investigate the use of forest products in Puerto Rico; where the wood is coming from; what types of wood; who are the buyers; and what other forest products are in demand and use.
In 2015, Andrés co-founded Puerto Rico Hardwoods with Thrity Vakil, to deal with valuable hardwoods that were being dumped in already over-burdened landfills.
In 2017, Andrés oversaw the reconstruction of the main forest road at Las Casas de la Selva and designed and built a bridge/forde. Hurricane Maria was a devastating blow. Hurricane Maria provided a leap forward in the use of wood in Puerto Rico. Even as the government decided the fallen trees were worthless and moved forward with destroying much of the ‘windfall’, PRH became the pioneer in salvaging valuable hardwoods on the island. POSITIONS:
2015 – Present: Co-founder and CEO Puerto Rico Hardwoods Inc.
2015 – Present: Fellow of The Institute of Ecotechnics, (U.S.A. Not-for-profit, U.K. Educational Charity).
2013 – Present: Co-founder & Director CADA, (Council for the Development of Agro-forestry)
2007 – Present: Secretary, Tropic Ventures Education & Research Foundation, Patillas, Puerto Rico 2015: Established Puerto Rico Hardwoods, Inc.
2014: Organized The Second Forest Products Assessment Symposium and Exhibition of Forest Products December, at The International Institute of Tropical Forestry, San Juan, PR.
2013: Co-founded CADA, Council for the Development of Agroforestry. Open membership includes individuals from universities and the private sector, members of Government agencies, and many other institutions, all brought together with an overarching interest in the development of policies pertaining to the sustainable and intelligent use of Puerto Rico’s valuable & unique natural resources.
April 2013: Organized a conference at the International Institute of Tropical Forestry attended by key players in the DRNA , the USDA, University of PR, and IITF. The group formally became CADA (Consejo Asesor para el Desarrollo Agro-Forestal) at the meeting at Cayey University on 6th May 2013.
2012: Organized The First Forest Products Assessment Symposium, April, Puerto Rico Department of Natural Resources.
2012: Organized Several key discussions, conferences, and gatherings, including well-attended symposiums at the DRNA, and the International Institute of Tropical Forestry, along with a hands-on, in-the-field timber workshop at Tropic Ventures Sustainable Forestry Project.
2011: Created the NUESTRA MADERA website to document and archive the findings on products, artisans, fairs, woodworkers, sawmills after assessing the wood and non-wood forest products on the island. The Project was made with the help of a grant awarded by the PR Department of Natural Resources.